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Ribbon Movie Review: It Is The Film To See This Week




Starring: Kalki Koechlin, Sumeet Vyas

Directed by: Raakhee Sandilya

Rating:*** ½(3 and a half stars)

And then, something happens. Something awful and irreversibly life-changing happens in this true-life portrait  of  an urban marriage  threatening to  fall apart under the strain of coping with daily vicissitudes.

Debutant director Raakhee Sandilya uses her two principal actors  to  mirror metropolitan  mores and  meltdowns  with  masterful vigour and a scrupulous authenticity. The  camera is used not to accentuate or  glamorize Mumbai’s suburbia  but to simply serve as a functional topography for  the  lives of the coupleSahana and Karan played with such an absence of bravura and flourish that we forget Kalki and  Sumeet  Vyas are playing characters who  don’t exist beyond  the film.

At  least  not in the way we see them  here.

The authenticity instilled  into  the  couple’s lives is comparable with what Basu Bhattacharya achieved with Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila  Tagore in the  remarkable portrait of a marriage on  the skids in Aavishkar 43 years ago.

Director Raakhee Sandilya’s  protagonists are not played by  stars and one  one of them has not been seen on  the large screen before. Kalki and Sumeetpenetrate the lives  of their characters with an incredible alacrity. No time is wasted in  bringing their lives as  close to us  as cinematically possible.We  enter their lives without fuss or ceremony and we leave them  just as quickly, with no  room  for farewells.

Sandilya strips the  film of all vanity. There is  very little background music to highlight even the highest summits  of  emotions in the  narration, so that we  get the feeling of  an  unpolished raw home video. Hurting and hurtful.Kalki  plays the more aggressive partner.And why not? Early  in  the plot(if one may accuse this film of resorting to  plotting devices) Sahana….well, she loses the  plot  when  her seemingly supportive boss turns wary and hostile after she  returns  from her maternity  leave.

The scenes  of Sahana’s workplace politics make  us flinch.Yup, this is what goes on  when  women workers get too big for their  boots.

The  sequences where  the couple deal with their child’s hired ayah abound in  the scent of lived-in familiarity. Every  working couple  silently suffers the tantrums  of  its house help.  Ribbon is  a subverted upturned take on  all the family films we’ve seen  in  the 1960s and 70s. If Jeetendra and LeenaChandarvarkar in L V Prasad’s Bidaai were to set up home  in Mumbai today, this is  what they would  have to deal with.

If Ribbon  was  not  such a sharply aligned slice-of-life story  it would be a  horror film, much in the same way that Daron Aronofsky’s Mother is. It is disturbing in  its implied critique on  the nuclear family where couples choose to keep their parents  out . The  last 30  minutes of  the film is a  separate beast, bound to serve up a wallop of shock disgust and  despair in  the audience as they watch the couple’s helpless attempts to keep their selflimited  world  from  falling apart.

A  lot of the  scenes between the couple seem so spontaneous  and unrehearsed  , almost as  if the lead pair walked into situations in the script that they had inherited from a couple who lived there before them.Ribbon captures the rhythms of metropolitan  life with such a vehement repudiation  of drama that I often forgot  I was watching  fiction.Ribbon has  its share of  flaws.So relentless is the focus on the protagonists’ lives  that we  barely get a  glimpse  in  the lives  of  the  other (interesting but sketchy)characters, like Sahana’s friend  or Karan’s father or the babysitter-ayah who evident  leads a life as adventurous as her employers’ , if not more.

But that, some other time.

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